"The best way to describe Ben Cook-Feltz's music may be Paul Simon singing songs about broken hearts and pants." - Iowa Public Radio
"One of the sweetest, floweriest male folk-pop singer voices since the late Jeff Hanson was still with us." - Chris Riemenschneider, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Ben Cook-Feltz is the consummate "piano man" — composing compelling melodies and song narratives reminiscent of piano powerhouses like Billy Joel and Ben Folds, but with his own signature flair and stylish musical sensibility. A talented keyboardist and honey-toned vocalist that deftly combines musical smarts and a great pop-rock sensibility." - Jessica Paxton, KYMN Northfield
"From the sprawling, spacy piano closing out "Full Moon" to the bouncing ‘90s top-40 feel-good basslines the preceded it, Cook-Feltz has a nifty way of carving his own space in the world of pop." - Local Current
"As soon as you guys started playing, the first thing that came to my head was 'What the f**k??'" - Random guy at The Nomad
"Are you actually putting that on the album?" - Peter Remiger, co-producer
Iowa-raised, Minneapolis-based Ben Cook-Feltz is a singer, songwriter, drummer and self-taught pianist. Combining observational, sometimes quirky lyrics with melodies that hearken back to the classic sounds of the 60′s and 70′s, he has been entertaining audiences throughout the Midwest as a dynamic performer, whether playing solo, with his crackerjack band, or backing up some of the finest regional talent. His most recent record, She Doesn't Believe Me, was released in October 2015.
It all began in a small 5,000 watt radio station in Fresno, California...actually, it really began in Cedar Falls, IA, where I was born. I spent the first 23 years of my life in Cedar Falls, doing all your typical Iowan things, which actually aren't that different from what everyone else was doing in the 80's and 90's (for instance, I have no idea how to tip a cow, much less milk one). My mom was a piano teacher, which explains my interest in music. My dad was a behavioral health counselor, which explains my interest in confessional songwriting. I started teaching myself to play piano when I was 7; I'd figure out how to play themes to my favorite Godzilla movies, Nintendo games or TV Shows (Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers was a fan favorite), and the occasional Beach Boy or Harry Chapin song.
Eventually, I started writing instrumental pieces, performing them at Sunday church services and variety shows. I even submitted a couple tunes to the Young Iowa Composers Forum, earning 2nd place statewide both times! (And contrary to popular belief, Iowa has a lot of great musicians and composers. Might not have electricity just yet, but boy can we play.) I also studied percussion and voice in high school. Even got to go to All-State for voice one year, I did!
Once I got to college, I decided to combine my myriad musical interests, and started writing songs with lyrics that I could sing, while playing piano or drums. (Not at the same time. That doesn't really work.) I'd play in coffee shops around town, occasionally supporting other artistic folk, while studying percussion at the University of Northern Iowa. When I moved to Minneapolis in 2004, to study record production at McNally Smith College of Music, I discovered a whole world of like-minded folk, fantastic musicians who shared a penchant for Ween songs and playing late night shows at dive bars for very little compensation.
I put a band together, the gist of which has stayed the same for nearly a decade (Cole Mickelson on guitar, Andy Schuster on bass, Jim Crimmings or Joe Olsen on drums), and over the years, we've developed a solid ethos: We do things other bands only joke about. We want to play great music - but just as importantly, we want you to have fun. If you walk away with a smile on your face, and a couple of my tunes stuck in your head, well sir that's a success.
I also do a lot of work as a side player. I'm a full-fledged member of the Mother Banjo Band and Art Vandalay, and I also have performed as a side man alongside great local folks like Jon Rodine, Kari Arnett, Sarah Morris, Dan Gaarder and Jaspar Lepak. I also play the occasional church band and corporate gig. To me, balancing my time as a band leader and side man are two sides of an incredibly gratifying coin. I get to work with a lot of amazing musicians, and I get to play a lot of amazing songs. Also, when I'm acting as Side Guy, I do my best to be the kind of side player I'd like in my own band. (And let's be honest, like most musicians, I'm really looking for a band full of me's here.)
What it all comes down to is, I love making music. It makes me feel alive, and it gives me so much joy. I am thrilled by any chance I get to share that joy with other people. Almost as much as I was thrilled by Christopher Walken in The Country Bears. Seriously guys - he makes armpit farts. You haven't lived until you've seen Christopher Walken making armpit farts in The Country Bears.